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No doubt on our disagreement with Syria: Meshal

Khaled Meshal, Hamas politburo head, underlines his group's break with Damascus over the latter's treatment of a two-year pro-democracy popular uprising

Ahram Online , Thursday 7 Feb 2013
Khaled Meshal
Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal (Photo: Reuters)
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Khaled Meshal, Head of Hamas's politburo, told the BBC Thursday that the Islamist movement had been "forced out" of Damascus due to political disagreements with the regime on dealing with the two-year popular uprising in the country.

"There is no doubt that we have disagreed with the Syrian regime on the manner with which they managed the crisis, and their resorting to the security-military option," the BBC's Middle East News website quoted Meshal as saying.

"The massacre taking place in Syria pains us very much," he said.

However, Meshal pointed out that Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad still maintains a pro-Hamas position. Meshal revealed that Al-Assad's relations with Iran remain another source of deterioration in political relations between Damascus and Hamas.

Last month, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that Syrian state security forces had executed two Hamas members after their arrest, throwing their corpses near the camp-based Aisha Mosque in a southern countryside area near Damascus.

Ismail Haniyeh, head of the Hamas government in Gaza, had offered his support to the Syrian opposition during the ongoing armed insurgency against Al-Assad's regime, saying it was striving for "freedom, democracy and reform."

Such statements signified a shift in Hamas's previously neutral position regarding the complex political crisis in Syria.

Syria welcomed Hamas in 1999 after Jordanian authorities expelled the movement's leader-in-exile Meshal.

At the time, a political alliance was built between Hamas and Damascus based on shared enmity to Israel. However, the situation changed after Al-Assad's regime launched a crackdown on anti-government protesters in 2011.

Hamas, which is ideologically affiliated with Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, distanced itself from Al-Assad last year after the Damascus regime reportedly widened its crackdown to include Sunni Muslim protesters and rebels.

Al-Assad's government consists largely of followers of the Alawite sect of Islam. Hamas, along with the Muslim Brotherhood, is based in Sunni Islam.

Brewing tensions between Damascus and the Hamas leadership led Meshal to shut down the group's office in Damascus in February 2012 year and depart for Qatar, an oil-rich Gulf country that has supported rebels fighting to topple Al-Assad.

Syria, in response, accused Meshaa of turning his back on Al-Assad, his one-time protector. "Syria embraced Meshal like an orphan looking for shelter after other countries shut the door in his face," AFP quoted a government commentator as saying on Syrian television last October.

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